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21 Year Old Girl Injured in Car Accident by Drunk Driver Gets Nothing

April 30, 2008 by Steven M. Gursten

Earlier this month, we posted “Do I Have a Good Case?”, illustrating 8 inconsistent examples of how Michigan’s car accident injury laws unfairly impact real people, with identical injuries from car accidents. All examples were based on actual cases, although one example (Gagne v. Schulte) stands out as so extreme, it has been questioned by our readers as “unrealistic”.

Sadly, that case was all too real. Krista Gagne was 21 years old when her car was hit by a drunk driver. Krista suffered very serious injuries, including a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial meniscus that ultimately required reconstructive knee replacement surgery. She lost over a year from work, had extensive physical therapy, and ultimately lost her job.

Gagne v. Schulte is an eloquent example of how Michigan’s automobile accident law, enacted by our legislature to weed out “clearly frviolous” and “de minimus” injuries in exchange for generous first party no fault insurance benefits, has been metastasized by our courts beyond recognition in recent years.

As co-chair of the Michigan Association for Justice Auto No Fault Committee, I work with members of the Michigan Legislature of both political parties to correct many of the problems with Michigan’s auto laws. I also spend much of my time explaining what is wrong with Michigan’s personal injury laws, especially as they relate to people who suffered serious injury in car and truck accidents in Michigan. Yet when cases such as Gagne v. Schulte are released, what happened to this innocent 21 year old girl is far more compelling. This example speaks volumes about how judicial activism has created an automobile accident law in Michigan today that is far worse than what the legislature had intended. After reading Gagne, it seems fair to say that at least some members of our courts are more concerned with protecting drunk drivers who seriously injure innocent drivers (and the auto insurance companies that insure these drunk drivers) then they are with protecting the public.

As with many other car and truck accident cases analyzed in our Michigan Auto Lawyers Blog, basic changes in the way legal documentation of Krista Gagne’s injuries were handled could have saved this case from summary disposition under our law of serious impairment of body function.

It should be noted that there was extensive legislative response following this auto decision and today there remain several bills pending in the Michigan Legislature to restore the original legislative intent of Michigan’s automobile accident threshold law. Michigan Auto Law will continue to post updates about important judicial and legislative developments.

Yet sadly, every bit of our earlier example from the April 4th post was based upon actual facts. This actually happened to a real person who was severely injured by a drunk driver and who received nothing for her injuries and surgery.

Gagne v. Schulte, issued by the Michigan Court of Appeals on February 28, 2006. No. #264788

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